Judge overturns Texas law banning dismemberment abortions

Pro-abortion protesters demonstrate in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington March 2, 2016. | Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

A judge has thrown out provisions of a Texas law that would have prohibited dismemberment abortions, which is commonly used in the second trimester to terminate pregnancies.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel had issued a permanent injunction against the provisions contained in Senate Bill 8, which was aimed at banning doctors from performing dilation and evacuation abortions.

In his ruling, Yeakel argued that the provisions were "facially unconstitutional" and that it "intervenes in the medical process of abortion prior to viability in an unduly burdensome manner."

Yeakel contended that women would "suffer irreparable harm by being unable to access the most commonly used and safest previability-second-trimester-abortion procedure."

The judge further stated that "dismemberment abortion" was not a medical term used by physicians, and asserted that the aim of the measure was to ban the dilation and evacuation procedure.

Yeakel's decision came just as the restraining order he placed on the legislation was set to expire on Wednesday.

He issued a temporary restraining order on the law on Aug. 30 after the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit on behalf of several abortion facilities.

Critics of the legislation argued that dilation and evacuation is the safest method of abortion after about 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Guttmacher Institute, a research group advocating for abortion rights, noted that while the procedure is used in most second-trimester abortions, almost 90 percent of all abortions are carried out during the first trimester.

Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said that his office had already filed an appeal, adding that the legislation was lawful and protected "unborn human life from ghastly dismemberment abortions."

Joe Pojman, executive director of Texas Alliance For Life (TAL), slammed the ruling, and commended Paxton for his "robust defense of the law."

"U.S. Supreme Court precedent does not allow states to protect non-viable unborn babies from abortion, even when the methods entails dismembering the baby during the abortion. Most people find abortion by this method to be abhorrent," he said, as reported by Life Site News.

"This court's decision shows how out of step that precedent is with common human decency," he added.

The pro-life group noted that other provisions of the law remain in effect, including a "ban on partial-birth abortion, the sale or donation of tissues and organs obtained after abortion, and research on those tissues and organs."

According to Life News, similar laws have been passed in Arkansas, Alabama, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and West Virginia. However, courts have struck down such measures in Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.